Valley News – Winning ugly works for Lacrosse Boys from Lebanon

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Published: 04/14/2022 21:32:15

Modified: 04/14/2022 21:31:06

LEBANON – Lebanon High Boys lacrosse coach Cole Flannery is a no-nonsense man who lets his troops know exactly where they stand.

Which was right in Flannery’s kennel after Thursday’s 12-6 win over Hillsboro-Deering.

Yes, the Raiders won, but they allowed a five-goal lead to be reduced to one at halftime early in the fourth quarter. Yes, they had a 33-15 shot advantage, but far too many attempts went wide of goal or into the body of hulking Hillcats goalie Jared O’Connor, who made 12 saves.

And, of course, Lebanon improved to 1-1 in NHIAA Division III after an unexpected semi-final finish last year. However, if they continue to play like they did against HD, the chances of a re-engagement are actually good.

“It was pretty ugly,” said Flannery, who is in his third season at the helm of the Raiders. “Certainly not what I was hoping for. Our boys were looking for easy goals and they pushed everything to achieve that.

“They thought they were going to continue the table (Hillsboro-Deering) and that clearly didn’t happen.”

At its best, lacrosse is a passing game. Single dodges and sweep shots make up the highlight videos, but keeping the ball in the air and staying one step ahead of the opposition is how games are won. Lebanon seemed consumed with individual play, repeatedly attempting long shots or others from sharp angles while quickly ending possession.

It was enough to beat the Hillcats, who only had five substitutes on the bench, but it’s unlikely to work against the division’s better teams.

“We won this game because of them, not us,” Flannery said. “They had a good goalie and their faceoff boys were real but you can’t lose to one team because the other team has some good players.”

The Raiders are a little shorthanded themselves after three high-ranked starters were recently declared academically ineligible for the season. Defender Luke Greene, long-stick midfielder Cam Davio and short-stick midfielder Alisdair MacPhail would all have been Impact players and Flannery said he was caught off guard by their departures.

“By the time I found out it was too late to talk to them and that’s a shame but it’s their responsibility to pass the courses they have to pass,” said Flannery, a local attorney. “It hurts our depth, but in terms of talent, the guys who have filled in for them are just as good or better.”

The coach said former goaltender Ethan Esbaugh, a senior, and freshman Otto Bourne had moved up the depth chart and into midfield with short sticks. Senior Ethan LaHaye and Junior Alex Blish look strong there with a longer branch in their hands.

Hillsboro-Deering opened the scoring Thursday, but Lebanon responded with six straight goals. The Hillcats advanced 7-6 with eight minutes to go but seemed to wear themselves out during the comeback effort, giving up the afternoon’s final five goals.

The Raiders’ Noah Mekus had four goals and one assist, and Griffin Auch had three goals and three assists. Cesar Salcedo had three goals and an assist and Colin Maher had two goals and an assist. James Barnett had three saves. Hillsboro-Deering is 0-2 and lost his opener against Kearsarge 16-4.

Flannery said his goal this season is for the Raiders to understand their sport well enough to play a free-flowing, less structured style. The former Sharon Academy bank boss isn’t a fan of relying on standards.

“I want them to see the field and gain the knowledge to be less mechanical and more instinctive for them,” Flannery said. “If that happens, what should you be doing defensively and what do you need to be doing to get offensive looks?”

And get out of the kennel.

Tris Wykes can be reached at [email protected]

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